Podium for Lotterer on Masters debut
German driver Andre Lotterer finished second in today's Marlboro Masters of Zandvoort, the largest motorsport event in Holland with a crowd of 65,000. Team-mate James Courtney, also making his debut at the event, finished twelfth after a determined drive through the field.
Forty-five drivers representing the British, German, French and Japanese Formula Three Championships and seventeen countries attended the event, with thirty-seven cars taking to the grid for this afternoon's twenty-five lap race. The British teams demonstrated yet again why their national Championship is regarded as the best in the World with eight of the top twelve places going to their drivers.
The number of drivers registering for the event means that qualifying is split, with that group which has the fastest pole time claiming race pole and all the "odd" slots on the grid. In his faster group, Andre held second slot for much of the combined hour session, but was pipped at the chequered flag by five hundredths of a second by Bruce Jouanny. This demoted Andre to third in his group and fifth on the grid. James didn't fare quite so well during his sessions, finishing eleventh and therefore twenty-second on the grid.
As the lights turned to green Andre made a start that by his own admission was "brilliant". He took three cars off the line to slot in behind pole-sitter Takuma Sato although as they went around the first corner, Tarzan, it looked as though he might be able to slip down the inside. It wasn't to be and so Andre had to settle into second. In the early stages, he maintained a consistent distance to Sato, but the young Japanese gradually carved out a lead. As the race developed, Andre found himself coming under a little pressure from Sato's team-mate Anthony Davidson, who had come from tenth to third, but the relaxed nineteen-year old German didn't feel particularly threatened:
"Anthony was pushing hard but the situation was under control. He tried to make a move once or twice under braking, which gave me a bit of an adrenaline buzz, but I didn't make mistakes and I had a car under me that was consistently good lap on lap."
James also made a demon start to the race, making up four places by the end of the first lap. Over consecutive laps he reeled in more drivers to move up to fifteenth, and then became embroiled in a three-way with Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Marco du Pau. The trio traded fastest times lap on lap and the margins fluctuated just slightly enough to stop James trying to make a manoeuvre as he had to more vigorously defend his slot. Nicolas Kiesa's retirement on lap eleven saw James move up a place and on lap nineteen, James was eventually able to break the deadlock, both moving ahead of de Oliveira and claiming a position through Hannes Lachinger's retirement. He then remained in twelfth to the chequered flag.
The ever-jovial Australian explained after the race: "Both Andre and I knew that it was important to conserve the Bridgestone tyres and although mine went off a little I was still able to make moves in the latter part of the race. It's a shame that we didn't do a little better in qualifying, but there's always next year!"